A grassroots organization called No Casino Toronto launched its online campaign on Tuesday, saying a large entertainment complex would be “detrimental” to the city and urging councillors to reject a proposal from the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. (OLG).

Last month, the OLG said that a mega casino could create 12,000 well-paying jobs in the city, but chairman Paul Godfrey said he wasn’t waiting around for Toronto to make a decision.

“It’s yours if you want it. You don’t want it, well, we’ve got to move on” Godfrey said on Sept. 21. The OLG said there were 33 other communities that wanted a gaming facility.

No Casino Toronto argued that the mega casino would not bring in tourist dollars. Instead, it will have a “devastating” impact on local businesses like restaurants, bars, hotels and theatres.  

Those who live in the city would chose to go to the casino over other venues, the group said, citing a U.S. report from 2008. The report found that situations like Las Vegas are rare and casinos in other cities tend to “cannibalize” surrounding businesses.

In addition to its economic impact, the group argued the casino would have a negative social impact, “including increased crime, problem gambling, bankruptcies, traffic gridlock and parking problems.”

City manager Joe Pennachetti is expected to deliver a report on the pros and cons of a Toronto casino in November.

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